Carnegie Centre of Excellence for Mental Health in Schools

Embedding a Strategic Approach as Senior Mental Health Lead - Advanced

Strategic leadership around mental health means the ability to shape change, not just in your own setting but within your local area using, whilst also being inspired by the latest thinking and playing a leading role in a network of change-makers.

Embedding a Strategic Approach as Senior Mental Health Lead - Advanced

Course Overview

  • Attendance

    Part Time
  • Dates

    6th March - 14th July 2023
  • Venue

    Blended learning
  • Cost


This course is for experienced and established senior leads for mental health who have been in post for a number of years and are keen to remain on top of this important agenda and seeking to significantly deepen their leadership.

Firstly, the extent to which schools screen students and direct them to specific types of intervention is incredibly variable, not just nationally or locally, but also within schools themselves. Some staff will act upon experience, some using complex screening tools, some because it is the only intervention they have available. Poor screening itself risks over-identification of students or failure to recognise a concern at all, especially if well-hidden. Significantly, and perhaps more troublingly, the way in which schools assess the impact of interventions is just as varied and inconsistent. This view is supported by Snell et al. who cite how schools waste time, resources and funding upon intervention strategies which are not based upon impact but rather availability. Hence, this course focuses on the protocols, how to develop stringent referral pathways, what assessment tools to use and then how to interpret them. This course will focus on impact rather than input and will develop these protocols and processes as part of the course; you will not have to go back to school and find the time to do. Hence, this is not about theory but about impact.

This course does not shy away from the challenges, it rather recognises them and develops ways around them. Firstly, there is variable buy in from staff on evidence-based practice (as previously alluded to) which has led to varying degrees of implementation and has had a knock-on effect to parental and student engagement. However, there are other inter-related issues, such as social stigma around mental health, parental risk factors, funding issues, waiting times and so on. There are also issues around implementation, from competing priorities around students (attainment vs. pastoral care) to issues around screening and outcome evaluation. That is not however to say that these issues are insurmountable; they can and have been tackled in schools where a strategic and systematic approach have been adopted. Hence, it is really important schools have an evidence-based grounding coming from professionals working in the field.

In this course you will focus on how you tie together the various strands of the whole school approach to mental health. A school leadership specialist will work with you on developing your three-year roadmap for whole school strategic change and you will also develop your own leadership development plan, identifying how you can increase your leadership potential in the coming year.

This course is developed to provide you with the tools to evaluate your strategic choices, helping you make marginal gains where you can and results in an ambitious school improvement strategy. Throughout, your peers will support and challenge your thinking, resulting in a more informed strategy and deeper understanding how your leadership can advance further.

The course will be delivered via an online portal with eight units, live webinars and breakout sessions. This allows participants to work at their own pace.

You will receive individual one to one coaching and group coaching from our team of experienced senior school leaders.

In this course Mental Health Leads will be grouped together in peer networks with other leads from schools with similar socio-economic backgrounds to look at how to get staff buy-in around the action plans they are developing. You will peer review each other’s plans, allowing you to exchange best practice.

You will access a personalised individual session which will focus on developing your three year action plan, analysing what can be considered a success and also develop a ‘fail list’.

Our programme delivery is as follows:

  • Unit 1 – Your role and collaborative working (Leadership & Management. Here we are looking at what needs to be place in your setting including different waves of provision)
  • Unit 2  Mapping your provision - Why is it important to do? How do you do this with a tiered approach? (Targeted support and appropriate referrals)
  • Unit 3  Screening – why do people use it, what tools are available, and which are most useful for my setting? (Identifying need and monitoring impact)
  • Unit 4  Evidence based practise – what’s out there, how do I assess it and how can I use it? (Creating an ethos and environment/Staff development)
  • Unit 5 – Conducting research with your stakeholders (Enabling the student voice/Working with parents, families and carers)
  • Unit 6  Using your curriculum time collaboratively to the maximum to support wellbeing (Curriculum, Learning and Development)
  • Unit 7  This unit will be focusing on your 121 deep dive with your mentor
  • Unit 8 – This unit will be focusing on your 121 action plan following your session previously
  • Regional conference – coaching triad sessions and round table discussions using ‘open space technology’

Suitable for: Colleagues from all phases and settings who are experienced and established senior leads for mental health who have been in post for a number of years and are keen to remain on top of this important agenda and seeking to significantly deepen their leadership.

Delivery Mode: Blended Learning – our programme features online live learning, online forum discussions, online learning, group coaching, personalised audit planning and access to a face to face conference (held regionally).

All participants will also have access to the Carnegie Mental Health and Wellbeing Lead Community to attend further CPD opportunities.

Duration: The course is broken into eight online units with group coaching sessions and finishes with a regional face to face day with coaching triads and round table discussions.

Cost: £900

As the headteacher of Brownlow Fold, I promote positive mental health and wellbeing for our whole school community and recognise how important mental health and emotional wellbeing is to our lives in just the same way as physical health. School staff juggle multiple tasks and demands, so a focus on staff wellbeing has become increasingly important. Taking good care of staff both emotionally and practically helps them to perform to the best of their ability and ensures that they are better able to support pupils.

In 2019, we implemented an Emotional Well-being and Mental health strategy and achieved the Well Being Award. We have continued to undertake various training (CBT Therapist/NLP Practitioners, Mental Health First Aiders) and implemented many strategies to ensure that Mental Health and Emotional Wellbeing is a whole school focus.

Staff are proud to work at the school. They appreciate all that leaders do to support their well-being and help them to manage their workload - Ofsted 2022.

However, when the government gave additional funding to enable the senior mental health lead to undertake training to implement and sustain a whole school approach to mental health and wellbeing, I was very excited by the prospect of building on the good practice we had already implemented.  Being part of the advanced training with Leeds Beckett enabled a blended learning approach with self-paced learning,(which for a busy headteacher was crucial). The engagement in online discussions through the mighty network portal was extremely beneficial and live webinars, personalised feedback and Dilemma Based (Group) Coaching all ensured that the training was coherently structured and progressive. 
The option to become a member of the Free Carnegie School Mental Health and Wellbeing Lead Community was also extremely beneficial. This community has both national and international members and a wide range of CPD and opportunities to engage with that I have found extremely useful.

The training aligns to the eight principles outlined in Public Health England’s (PHE) promoting children and young people’s emotional health and wellbeing.

Julie Cheung Brownlow Fold Primary School

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Carnegie Centre of Excellence for Mental Health in Schools

Strengthening the mental health of the next generation by supporting schools to make a positive change at all levels of the UK's education system, hereby improving outcomes and life chances.

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